The need to define a clearly recognisable unique object becomes obvious in the projects the reader has spent some time reading. It’s impossible to mistake the limits of a project to which Eduardo Arroyo puts his name: the geometry is always characteristic and unmistakeable. A no.mad project is incapable of mixing with and infiltrating its surroundings and it seems clear, due to the rigour with which all the projects have been conceived, that this characteristic is not an accident. I’m certain that this property will turn out to be very attractive for those who understand architecture as a discipline whose basic aim resides in the production of objects. But, however, it’s quite possible that this architectonic property is not as crucial, or as interesting, as the geometric redundancy that this same objectual anxiety is wont to produce. As can be seen in many of the projects published here, the different overall and particular geometries that are utilised to formally define the buildings end up being superimposed on top of each other, and it is precisely in these redundant moments that unique and highly interesting situations are produced.
The first time I observed this quality was in one of the corners of the Lasesarre Football Stadium in Barakaldo, designed in plan as a rectangle that presents four denticulated elevations of vertical steel plates on top of which a translucent roof is put. On a typical overcast day, with a homogeneous light incapable of producing shadows, the corners of the stadium disappear. The overall geometric order the architect has established is diluted and the change between facades cannot be appreciated. As can be seen in photographs of the building, the continuous skin of vertical plates covering the stadium is aligned with the corner of the denticulated elevation, thus doing away, in these atmospheric conditions, with the possibility of differentiating the geometric change (the arris) within the visual continuity (the skin). It seems clear that the visual continuity between facades was a no.mad objective (since, if not, the continuous skin of vertical steel plates in all the perimeter would be difficult to explain). But what is really interesting about this situation is that a particular geometry (that of the skin) is capable of cancelling out the orthogonality of the overall geometry (defined by the rectangle in plan). Under these atmospheric conditions the superimposing of two different geometric orders ensures that the facade does not present the corner of the rectangle and the condition of visual continuity initially planned by no.mad is completed in geometrical terms. In this contradictory situation geometric redundancy is presented as necessary for ensuring a particular geometric condition, the latter being, in this instance, the visual continuity of the facades.
Another similar situation-although not as developed, due to having remained, alas, on paper-occurs in one of the images produced on the occasion of the competition for the new Nam June Paik Museum in Yong-In, South Korea. Despite being a project produced with a strict geometric system, the result seems to be capable of surmounting the formal limitations that the actual geometry imposes. It’s difficult to explain, but that image-an axonometric view of the whole-manages to liquefy a building clearly defined by a geometry of exclusively straight lines. It’s a sensation similar to the one you get in front of many of Paul Klee’s paintings and drawings: the construction that looms up before us maintains a high degree of geometric precision, at the same time as it has diluted the rigidity conferred by the very geometry of straight lines, without having done away with, in any event, the ability to represent space from a purely geometric point of view.9 In this project, therefore, a process similar to the one explained above occurs: geometric redundancy is presented as necessary for ensuring a particular geometric condition, the latter being, in this instance, the visual liquefaction of the structure. It is still too early to be sure, but I think that this proposal for the Nam June Paik Museum, and in particular the image I’ve just analysed, could be considered as a point of inflection in the work of this office, since it may have opened the sphere of work to another, more profound geometric reality situated beyond an apparent surface geometry.
In my opinion, these kinds of situations are what give an incalculable value to such projects based on geometric calculi, since the states of balance carefully defined by the architect are diluted by means of geometric redundancies, thus producing new architectonic properties. I’m sure that Eduardo Arroyo and the various men and women architects who’ve passed through his office have understood this problem: it’s very possible that, in the last analysis, the basic issue on which his work is centred is really the control of geometric redundancy and not the precise production of a unique object by means of geometrical processes. And this, without doubt, is one of the essential tasks of a gamekeeper: how does one regulate overabundance, and what consequences does this have? It seems clear that in order to understand the potential of the formal processes that no.mad has developed, it is essential to move away from the position of the gardener (which would merely be dependent on the precise production of a formally unique object) and to assume the point of view of the gamekeeper (more centred on the regulation of these processes of transformation).
Despite, or due to, all that’s been said, it’s very possible that we might arrive at the final conclusion that Eduardo Arroyo and no.mad need a ‘complex’ process in order to produce good projects. Fine, then so be it. In fact we don’t have to be afraid because we’ve already accepted the fact that meaningless scribbles may deblock projects, we know how to question the brick, we’ve discovered the versatility of blue foam for representing anything, and we’ve realised that ‘cool’ materials give effects worthy of being explored. People know that ‘There’s more than one way to skin a cat,’ which, of course, is as important as the saying ‘The shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot.’ ‘
Table of contents:
Projected gamekeepers by Sergio López-Piñeiro
Precision and soul: Eduardo Arroyo and Robert Musil by Philip Ursprung
On the animation of matter, or, from the ‘where’ to the ‘what for’ of Eduardo Arroyo’s architecture by Manuel Ocaña
Works and projects:
Day nursery, Sondika
Plaza de Desierto, Barakaldo
Alexander Sokurov minicinema, Madrid
Landscape Interpretation Centre, Fabriano
Nam June Paik Museum, Seoul
Lasesarre Football Stadium, Barakaldo
Euskotren Station and Head Office, Durango
Museum of Art, Lausanne
Apartment building, Durango
The Estonian Museum of Art and History, Tartu
Single-family house, San Lorenzo de El Escorial
Cloudy clocks far from equilibrium by Eduardo Arroyo